Thursday, July 28, 2005


Flax crop catching flak

I ran across another PMP company that I had not discovered before. This one is called Agragen (it is in the pre-website stage of startup, if you can find their website, let me know). From what I understand, they are originally based out of Cincinnati, OH. Their first product focus is the production of albumin and omega-3 fatty acids in transgenic Flax (an aside - I admit I know nothing about Flax). Their plans call(ed) for them to set up production in North Dakota, which I assume is prime territory for growing flax. However, they seem to be running into a little trouble, much like Ventria did with their transgenic rice from the local farmers. I promise, I'll have more on the Ventria rice deal later. In this article in the Grand Forks Herald, Ernie Hoffert, a farmer and secretary-treasurer of Ameriflax lays out some strong criticisms against Agragen. The criticisms are pretty standard (not to say that they aren't serious), with the main concerns being cross-pollination and control of gene flow.Here is another article from the same paper but from an earlier date basically saying the same thing. Are the farmers right to be concerned? You bet. I think most farmers are well educated and understand the what the real risks associated with transgenic plants are. However, the general public is another concern. The general public has not been properly educated to the risks and advantages associated with transgenics. Therefore, if you are a farmer and there is a possibility that people will stop buying your food or fiber because of their fears of contamination from transgenic sources, then you have to take measures to protect your income. There is definitely a split growing in the farming community, as some communities embrace these technologies while other's reject it.

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